Let me start by saying that I think jealousy and envy are normal human emotions but just like all of our other feelings they say much more about us than they do about the person(s) our jealousy is directed towards.
I understand that part of current social narrative is that there is a finite amount of happiness/success available and if you appear to be too happy/successful you are certainly stealing from what could be my happiness/success and I’m not okay with that.
Yes, life is not fair. Some people are born with significantly more advantages than others and we should do our best to acknowledge our privilege and try to level the playing field but no matter what life will always be unfair and bad things will always happen to good people. This can not be an excuse for not pursuing the life you want.
I was doing some reading for this piece and I found a selection from Psychology Today that highlights what I see as the problems with the current social narrative. I am going to respectfully disagree with some of the points in the article.
Here’s one excerpt:
“But once you recognize envy, it may lose its sting. A friend who is envious can still be a good friend. The solution may be to crow less, applaud your friend more, pay more attention to her or find other topics and arenas where you don’t compete.”
No! I am not going to crow less. It sounds like she is saying you should dull your sparkle so that people don’t get jealous or shrink yourself so people don’t feel like you’re asking for attention.
You don’t have that kind of power over other people’s reactions.
Would you really rather people start conversations with, “Are you capable of being happy for me or should I stop talking?”
How about crow together? Life is hard and we should really celebrate all the little successes of our friends and family. I love when my friends reach their goals or go on wonderful adventures. Sure, I get jealous but then I get motivated.
Now this excerpt:
Ask yourself, “If I could be that other person instead of myself, who would I pick?”
Stop this now. They are lying to us: It is not a competition.
When jealousy crops up life becomes like a choose your own adventure novel.
Focus on that person and think “must be nice” or “they don’t know anything about the struggle” or thousands of variations on that statement.
You can acknowledge that you feel jealous and then put your phone down and get about the business of making your life better in some way. Jealousy has the power to be a significant motivator if we channel it correctly. Use that energy to achieve your goals rather than talk about how bad you have it and how good you think they have it (wasted energy and everybody struggles).
Remember the Valued Living Exercise? If you clicked on the link and saw the list of 377 values (and I’ve seen more detailed lists). Imagine, all the possible constellations of values. And imagine how those are all self-defined.
Meaning, that what I define as success and happiness might not fit perfectly for you, even if we value the same things.
BECAUSE WE ARE DIFFERENT PEOPLE.
But, what probably makes me the most jealous are things that align closely with my own values (yet another clue for me to reflect on and gain self awareness).
Maybe, if you’re jealous and it is interfering with your relationship with someone it doesn’t mean you want the life they have. Maybe it means you aren’t really pursuing what could be your own form of an awesome life. And sometimes people don’t even know what would be an awesome life for them (so use your emotional reactions as clues!)
If you want happiness/success you have to go and figure out what that looks like for you. The goal is not to never feel jealousy again but to use our emotions as a clues to figure out how you are honestly feeling about your own life.
“But then there’s you telling me I can
Then there’s you screaming say something
I want the ocean right now
I want the ocean right now
I get so jealous that I can’t even work
There I am in the morning
I don’t like what I see
I don’t know how it’s become such a problem
Keep you up all night if I try to remain calm
How can they ask why I feel so angry
Do you see my problem if I never explain it”
Tegan and Sara, So Jealous
Image found: http://izquotes.com/quote/285123